The Suffering Tree
By: Elle Cosimano
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
“It’s dark magic brings him back.”
Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.
Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.
As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.
From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.
This is a large departure from any of Elle’s books I have read so far. Its more ghost story than straightforward contemporary, and it jumps into the past through frequent flashbacks and visions, making it teetered on that line of a straightforward contemporary setting. I personally loved the mystery, how the book captured the small town feel perfectly, and the romance. At this point I should include a trigger warning: there multiple references to cutting and self harm and some of these references include the main character carrying out these actions on page.
That being said, I feel that The Suffering Tree portrayed depression and self destructive behavior accurately, based on my own experience with depression. The self harm and the feelings that motivate it are accurate as well, to the best of my knowledge and based on discussions I’ve had with people close to me. The one thing that I did find fault in how it was addressed was that there was limited resolution of Tori’s compulsion for self harm and the oversight that everyone around her participated in. Her mother knew of a history of depression and cutting, and I feel that that would have instigated at least having Tori continue therapy for the foreseeable future.
As for the plot around the boy who emerged from a hole in Tori’s backyard? (Haha cemetery plot jokes) I loved it. The descriptions of Tori’s new home were gorgeous, at least before the blight set in, and I loved the intertwining past and present. Normally, jumpy plots make me sea sick, but with Elle’s careful setup, the transitions felt graceful and organic. The magic that is woven into the story was beautiful as well. It’s a spin I hadn’t seen before (magic in bottles and boys fed by trees) but I thought it was a great diversion from the magic I usual see when reading. The romance was a little slow burn. Tori and Nathaniel have obvious feelings for each other, but circumstances and their own fears work against them at times. And the villains? They were believable. At times you could understand their frustration, but their actions and constant invasion of Tori’s privacy and life felt violating as a reader, as if it were my home and possessions these people had riffled through.
The Suffering Tree was a great read for anyone who wants a little bit of romance sprinkled over their time hopping storyline. The magic and mystery made the book, with the tense air between the Slaughters and Tori, and even sometimes Tori’s friends, gave The Suffering Tree the last little push to make it feel real.
Author of NEARLY GONE, NEARLY FOUND, HOLDING SMOKE, and THE SUFFERING TREE (Disney*Hyperion, 2017). Represented by Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency.Find the author:
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